Friends, it is my humble pleasure to welcome you to join PURE - People United for Responsible Entertainment.
It has been 72 hours since Maina Kageni's show on Classic FM on Friday morning brought us together in a spirit of collective concern as to the content and timing of his show, especially the inappropriate and sexually explicit content of his call-in segments.
During that time, all of you have expressed feelings ranging from embarrassment through dismay to outrage about the flagrant violation of broadcasting standards with regard to content that is explicit and offensive on Maina's morning show.
Some people have said that they do not tune in to Maina's show and have counseled the rest of us to simply exercise the same right of choice and migrate to other stations. Clearly, those of this school of thought are people who do have the privilege of exercising choice in the comfort and privacy of their cars. But there are many more Kenyans - school children and old women, working men and college students - who use public transport to commute to school and work who do not have that choice. It is for them that we must speak up.
What's more, school holidays will be here soon, and many of our house helps tune in to this station when parents are not at home and have no control over the content that their children get exposed to. For this reason, the need to reclaim our airwaves remains urgent and important.
For the avoidance of doubt, let me state clearly two things that this campaign is NOT about:
1. This campaign is not about dictating to Kenyans about what they can or cannot listen to. Kenyan adults have the right to determine for themselves what content to listen to in accordance with their freedom of conscience and the freedom of expression that are enshrined in our Constitution.
However, the same Constitution provides in Article 24 that fundamental rights may be limited "to the extent that the limitation is reasonable and justifiable in an open and democratic society based on human dignity, equality and freedom."
With regard to freedom of broadcasting, such limitation is allowable through regulation as to time, manner and form of broadcasting content, aimed at protecting vulnerable audiences such as children. The campaign is therefore aimed at ensuring that if Maina, Classic FM or any other station want to air explicit content, such content is aired only after the watershed hour after children have gone to bed.
2. This campaign is not personal and not merely targeting individuals like Maina Kageni. He just happens to be a representation of an emerging culture among certain broadcasters who seem to think that the airwaves are their private property to do as they deem fit with them, including trashing values that we cherish as Kenyans.
On the contrary, the airwaves are a public resource and those privileged to use them for broadcasting must do so in a manner consistent with the public good. While we cannot purport to dictate to other Kenyans as regarding their personal tastes in entertainment, we do have a right and a responsibility to demand that those who use our airwaves do so responsibly.
Hence the urgent need for People United for Responsible Entertainment - PURE.
So, where do we go from here?
We shall work within the law and engage the media houses and the institutions that have been established as custodians of the public interest, notably the Media Council of Kenya, the Communication Authority, and, if necessary, parliament and the courts.
We shall begin small - doing our best with what we have where we are. And in doing so - working consistently, stone by stone, brick by brick - we shall rebuild the ancient ruins and we will raise up the age-old foundations, in the abiding hope that because we did our part in standing firm together to defend it, our homeland of Kenya will once again become a heritage of splendour.
Here is the initial post: